FILM REVIEW: MEGA TIME SQUAD (FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2018)
Playing FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL this year is the time traveling crime caper comedy, MEGA TIME SQUAD (MTS). MTS is directed by DEATHGASM‘s Tim van Dammen, and has A LOT going on all at once but the big question is…is it strong enough to be contender among it’s peers? The answer is ….kinda?
WARNING: If the story-line I describe seems a bit disjointed and hard to follow it’s because that is exactly how I took it in. Sci-fi, fantasy and futuristic film are a hard sell to me. For the most part I find films of this ilk overly complex in story, which in turn makes it hard to be engaged in the plot, or invested in the characters.
Side note: A consistent theme in this film is “nuts”. Not of the tree or sanity variety, but the metaphorical nuts that a person who is not afraid to stand up for themselves or others has. A leader, or a boss so to speak. The lack of, trying to find, or overcompensation of nuts is what our players are trying to navigate throughout the film. Now, onto my best ability to relay the story in an orderly and cohesive fashion…..
Our story takes place in Wales (New Zealand). John (Anton Tennet) is a low level thug who does the leg work for his crime boss, Shelton (played by WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS‘ Jonathan Brugh). Shelton has a sister-in-crime (his actual sister) named Kelly (Hetty Gaskell-Hahn) that John falls for on sight. Somehow, John decides that the best way to show Kelly that he is in love with her is to buck up and use his nuts to pull off a great heist. His gumption is admirable, but Johns reality is that he is a bumbling fuck-up who botches this heist at a Chinese antique shop. The shopkeeper tells him that the money is hidden inside a tire. With the money in hand John is just about to flee the scene when a Chinese bracelet catches his eye (to give to Kelly)and he takes it. The shopkeeper grabs him and says that this bracelet is associated with an evil demon who will eat everything in sight including itself. Oh yeah, the bracelet also enables the wearer to bend time and create clones.
This is where the story starts to gain speed and from here it gets stranger and more confusing. While all that multi subplot business is working to distract you, the films main message is very clearly presented and well developed throughout the film. That is a message of believing in yourself, taking risks, finding your own voice, and most importantly recognizing that a person that tries to control you is only as strong as you allow them to be.
I had to watch this film more than 3 times because I kept finding myself lost due to the language barrier or the confusing story, That being said…..I was able to watch the film more than 3 times which is unheard of, but with MTS I found myself being able to enjoy what I could take in. As this is a kooky, crass, violent and funny film it isn’t criminal to just sit back and be entertained, whether you know what the hell is actually going on or not.
So, about that language barrier……I hate to say this but one of the things that hindered my enjoyment of the film is that I just could not understand a lot of the dialogue. This film is non stop fast talking, curse word riddled New Zealand slang. As someone who THOUGHT that they were well versed in NZ language and even regional dialects of NZ, this film was an eye opening reality check. Personally, I am not a fan of those.
Also a heads up that this film is pretty racist. Some have told me that’s just the frank delivery of the language but that does not dismiss the fact that there is racism and sexism very casually littered throughout. I chose to (had to) look past that so I was able to review the film properly for you beauties.
Shelton is the show stopper of the film. I was laughing so much that I missed key scenes that start the gears of the plotline moving. His character is the only thing that really kept me going during this film. I loved him and would actually like to see that character in a film that feels more developed than this one. To pull off a film like this the gags have to be so precisely paced that even some of the greats fall flat on their faces on attempt. MTS is close to pulling it off. In a perfect world, I would take out much of the jarring and confusing time travel elements. My confusion around this was greatly aided by some plot points that didnt add up and made me more frustrated than anything else. While the film clocks in at under 90 minutes, I still felt like it lagged and in all the wrong spots.
I can’t say I would recommend this film but it wasn’t terrible. I don’t feel that it was cohesive enough to put out to the world yet. Who knows how great it could be if it was!!!
If you are put off by casual racism, excessive swearing, fantastic confusion and a couple of heads blown off then this may not be the film for you.
2 out of 5 tombstones.
“A kooky, crass, violent and funny film”